What Are Laxatives?
Laxatives are natural foods or medicines that soften stools and improve bowel movements. They are used to get rid of constipation.
Some people think that both laxatives and stool softeners are the same. However, laxatives and stool softeners are not the same.
Actually, there are several types of laxatives that promote different activities. Stool softeners are one kind of laxative.
Types of laxatives
There are 8 types of laxatives. These are (1)
Bulk-forming laxatives: These retain fluid in the stool and increase stool consistency and weight. Examples:- Psyllium, dietary fiber, carboxymethylcellulose, and methylcellulose.
Osmotic agents: These contain poorly absorbable substances and draw water into the lumen of the bowel. Examples: Milk of magnesia, lactulose, sorbitol, and polyethylene glycol.
Prokinetic agents: These works as agonists of 5-Hydroxytryptamine receptors. Examples are cisapride and tegaserod. However, both of these are under research due to some health problems.
Lubricants: These aid in the passage of stools. Example: mineral oil.
Stimulant laxatives: These are able to stimulate both the myenteric plexus and the Auerbach plexus. This type of laxative also increases intestinal secretions and motility and decreases the absorption of water from the lumen of the bowel. Examples: Bisacodyl, senna, cascara, and sodium picosulfate.
Surface active agents like docusate act as laxatives. This leads to water and fats penetrating the stool lower surface tension.
Linaclotide or guanylate cyclase agonist
Lubiprostone or chloride channel activator
Natural laxatives are foods that are used to relieve constipation. These are easily available and do not create many side effects or health problems.
How do natural laxatives for constipation works?
Natural laxatives are a great source of any or three elements i.e fiber, magnesium, and water. Surplus consumption of these trios or any single element reduces the risk of constipation.
According to studies, both low water and magnesium intake from foods are independently associated with an increasing prevalence of functional constipation. It is especially common among the low dietary fiber intake population (2).
Because of these facts foods with high fiber or magnesium components and watery foods are used as natural laxatives to get rid of constipation.
The top and best quality natural laxatives are given below:
Peanut butter is good for you and a rich source of dietary fiber and magnesium. Both of these nutrients improve bowel frequency and reduce the risk of constipation.
A 100 gram serving of natural peanut butter contains 4.8 grams of dietary fiber and 169 mg of magnesium (5).
That’s why peanut butter is a widely used natural laxative to improve bowel frequency.
Almonds are keto friendly nuts and may prevent constipation. The high concentration of dietary fiber and magnesium components makes almonds a natural laxative.
Almonds contain a little bit higher fibers and magnesium than peanut butter. 100-gram serving size of fresh almonds provides 12.5 grams of dietary fiber and 270 mg of magnesium (6).
Nutrient-dense chia seeds can be a great addition to natural laxatives. The high concentration of dietary fiber and magnesium helps to improve bowel movement by softening stools.
Chia seeds provide 34.4 grams of dietary fiber and 335 mg of magnesium from a serving size of 100 grams (7).
Moreover, studies have shown that the risk of constipation can be decreased by intaking natural laxatives like whole chia seeds (8).
Flax seeds are natural laxatives like chia seeds. Only a 10-gram daily intake of flaxseed increases the daily fiber intake by 3 grams of insoluble fiber and by 1 gram of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber helps to improve laxation activity and prevent constipation by reducing bowel transit time and increasing fecal bulk (9).
Moreover, the high magnesium mineral of flaxseeds is another added benefit for reducing constipation risk. Like flax seeds, milk of flax seeds are also effective for constipation relief.
A 100 gram serving of flax seeds contains 392 mg of magnesium and 27.3 grams of dietary fiber (10).
Kefir is a milk product. This fermented milk drink is considered a natural laxative not because of fiber and magnesium components.
Kefir is not high in these nutrients. However, kefir is a rich source of probiotics. Probiotics are gut bacteria that may improve whole gut transit time, stool frequency, and stool consistency (11).
Moreover, studies have shown that kefir may have benefits over constipation. It has also shown that kefir accelerates colonic transit time and improves bowel satisfaction scores (12).
Moreover, brussels sprouts are a good source of magnesium. The magnesium macronutrient of brussels sprouts may be able to reduce the risk of constipation.
A 100 gram serving of brussels sprouts contains 3.8 grams of dietary fiber and 23 mg of magnesium (13).